Rattus norvegicus

When my son was in high school, we moved to a condo.

Though away from our beloved goldendoodle, Yogi,

our new place allowed the flow of kindness to grow.

Its southern exposure offered a sliding glass door

that led to a cement slab. On sunny days, we’d practice

camp-chair-togetherness, where we’d read, talk,

and admire the lawn’s alignment of red pines.

We missed the companionship of an animal-friend

until my son surprised me with a rat, a pink-eyed

white (PEW). No doubt the no pets policy welcomed

domesticated albinos (that was my hope). My son named

her Marie after Muridae, the scientific classification

for the family of rodents. In India, the Karni Mata

temple reveres albino rats; they’re thought to be

the divine embodiments of the warrior goddess.

Angelic in appearance, Marie captured our hearts

and impressed us with her cleanliness. Her waking

hours were spent grooming; during the process,

she’d shield her eyes from the dazzling effects

of light. A happy-go-lucky girl, Marie was also

an experienced traveler. Inside my hoodie,

as I’d walk from room to room, she’d chatter,

bruxing her teeth in PEW contentment. Backpacks

were another form of transportation. On one occasion,

unbeknown to me, Marie traveled to school.

A fleeting adventure, she returned home by lunchtime

to delight in the remembrance of books, halls,

and classrooms. In her sweet muroid way,

Marie became a part of our little family.

She was the divine embodiment of condo goodness,

and her pink-eyed presence dazzled us on a daily basis.

Jeannie E. Roberts

Jeannie E. Roberts has authored eight books, six poetry collections and two illustrated children’s books. Her most recent collection is titled The Ethereal Effect – A Collection of Villanelles (Kelsay Books, 2022). She is an award-winning artist and poet, listed in the Poets & Writers directory, serves as a poetry editor for the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs, and is a Best of the Net and an Eric Hoffer award nominee.

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